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Local public defender office applauds call by Evers, GOP for better hourly playSubmitted: 03/01/2019
Local public defender office applauds call by Evers, GOP for better hourly play
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

RHINELANDER - Secretaries in Rhinelander's public defender office often have to call 200 or 300 private attorneys before they find one willing to take a case.

Cases drag out and defendants wait in jail, in large part because Wisconsin pays these "private bar" attorneys the lowest hourly rate in the country.

But that could be about to change.

In Thursday night's budget address, Gov. Tony Evers proposed nearly doubling the hourly wage for these lawyers, who take cases when state public defenders have a conflict.


"We're increasing the private bar reimbursement rate to $70 an hour," Evers said. "We have to ensure that once someone encounters our criminal justice system, that they're receiving adequate, fair, and vigorous representation."

Courtney Jolin manages Rhinelander's State Public Defender office, which serves Vilas, Oneida, Forest, and Florence counties.

Roughly half of her cases need a private bar attorney.

But many lawyers refuse to take cases because of the low pay rate, stalling the system for months at a time.

"When we don't have a defense attorney to take over that important role and make sure that people's constitutional rights are being protected, the court system essentially grinds to a halt," Jolin said.

That situation happens often.

"My staff keeps having to tell judges that we don't have a lawyer for this person. A lot of times, that person is sitting in custody, and that has a huge effect on their family's life," Jolin said.

Evers also proposed adding more prosecutors to county offices across the state.

These proposals might find favor with the Republican legislature. Republicans proposed the same changes just a few weeks ago.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 07/17/2019

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:


We'll bring you the details of a faith-based group that is trying to buy a former school building in Mattoon to be used as a private school and tell you why the Antigo School District is trying to block it.

We'll show you some items found at the Oneida County landfill that shut down the recycling line and tell you why those items are hazardous to the people who need to sort them.

And we'll show you some of what happened at the motion hearing for a contractor accused of mishandling money in two different projects including the St. Germain Chamber's new building construction.


We'll bring you this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - Nativity of our Lord Parish in Rhinelander will see more structural changes following the renovation of its worship space in February 2018.

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MADISON - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is headed to Japan in September for his first trade mission.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation says Wednesday that the trip it is coordinating will include stops in Tokyo, Yokohama and Chiba City. Evers will also be attending the Midwest U.S.-Japan Conference.

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MADISON - It's been a busy week for former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

On Monday, he announced he would not run for office in 2022 because he had accepted a full-time position starting in 2021 with the Young America's Foundation.

And on Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced he was appointing Walker to the board of trustees of one of the world's most highly regarded think tanks.

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MADISON - A Wisconsin prisons official has been posting Facebook memes comparing Muslim children to garbage and flying the LGBTQ flag with flying the Confederate flag.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Deputy Warden Richard Schneiter in June posted a meme of two black garbage bags next to a Muslim woman and child in black burqas and a caption saying the woman had three beautiful children.

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RHINELANDER - The dog days of summer will hang around for quite some time. That heat can cause issues for your car's engine and the people and pets you drive around.

"The hot weather can affect your battery as well as the cold weather," said Maze Certified Auto Repair owner James Maze. "I recommend having it checked out as well in the summer months and as well as the winter."

Maze says those kinds of failures can happen at the worst time. It's not the only issue that the heat can cause.

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MERRILL - Police believe a group of men have been driving around north-central Wisconsin trying to scam homeowners through shoddy "improvement" work.

The latest case comes from the Town of Corning in Lincoln County. Sheriff Ken Schneider reports the men showed up at woman's home in the last week offering to seal her metal roof.

The suspect, described as an eastern European man in his 40s, offered to demonstrate the product when two other men got out of their truck and started putting the sealant on her roof.

A family member showed up soon thereafter, confronted the men and they left.

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